Just imagine going back in time and trying to explain to a younger version of yourself about iPods, TradeMe, 3G, PDAs, Wimax, social networking sites, YouTube, Xbox, PSP, even broadband – all the things that we take for granted today but were a mere twinkle in 1997. The trials of IT life now might take some explaining.
I guess a few insights would be illuminating but would the decade-younger version of you really care? You see, we might have Google seemingly taking over the world as we know it, but life then was full of new products, promises and no little amount of intrigue.
Microsoft’s biggest selling products in 1997 were its 32-bit operating systems, Windows 95 and Windows NT Workstation. Steve Jobs had just returned to a languishing Apple as an ‘advisor’, with the comment: “I have no desire to run Apple Computer. I deny it at every turn, but nobody believes me.” Later that year he became CEO.
Nearer home, in January 1997, Xtra had 45,000 subscribers and by December had launched Advance20, a dial-up plan ‘targeted at higher internet usage customers’ that cost $35 a month for 20 hours of online time – after which the then “standard hourly rates of $2.50 for local access and $4.95 for 0800 access” applied.
For dial-up! And there was me thinking mobile termination rates were an issue to get hot under the collar about.
In the same year, Saturn opened for business in Wellington, Telecom, Optus and MFS Globenet (subsequently taken over by Worldcom) agreed to sponsor something called the Southern Cross Cable, and ihug launched the country’s first residential broadband service (using a satellite).
Ah, happy days.
For those of you who want to get really nostalgic for something old, there’s something new that’s perfect for the job …YouTube. I had a rummage and found these three classics on the site that I guarantee will get you going all misty-eyed.
There’s an odd but fun homemade video entitled Nokia 1611 Video – A Quick Guided Tour, which provides a scary flashback at a popular budget phone that, I’m reliably informed, Reseller News’ first editor may have used.
Then there’s ISDN NT1 Indicator Lights. This one is awesome. I really can’t believe that people could have been so stupid as to not know what the three lights meant. Nevertheless, this ‘live demonstration’ from a training seminar shows how to use the indicator lights on an ISDN NT-1 device to determine if a line fault is from the network side or the customer equipment side of the demarcation point.
Finally, a classic, from MacWorld Boston 1997. The full version is 38 minutes long but if you do nothing else all today, it will have been worth it – from the tinny multimedia show to the boos and hisses that greet Bill Gates’ unexpected showing.
Jobs makes his first appearance since returning to work for Apple after being gone for a decade. It was an historic time for Apple. The company was almost bankrupt and, among other things, Jobs announces a temporary partnership with Microsoft to a very hostile crowd – including Microsoft Office for Macintosh, Internet Explorer becoming Apple’s default browser, a Java collaboration and a $150 million investment. It makes for compelling viewing.
Would you go back? Most likely it’s hard to say either way, especially if you worked through it. They were heady times but so too is IT today.